Sunday, June 26, 2011

Your next stop, The Twilight Zone

When I was a child, "The Twilight Zone" played late at night on Channel 11, one of the two PBS stations in my area.

At the time, the scariest things I'd seen were "Poltergeist" and "Ghostbusters." I didn't understand any of the political subtext of "The Twilight Zone" but what got through was that bad things can happen even to the nicest of people.

Episodes such as "Nick of Time" portray how the simplest of vices -- being a bit superstitious -- can turn the most ordinary people (William Shatner used to be a real actor, not just a caricature of himself) into paranoid wackos.

Series creator Rod Serling and his stable of writers (mostly Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont) understood the frailty of the human psyche. Some people's minds are easier to break than others, but under the right circumstances, everyone visits "The Twilight Zone."

As much as "The Twilight Zone" was a product of the Cold War and the fear that your neighbor could be a Communist (see "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street), it is timeless. Episodes would explore the future, would bring civilizations together and reach into the past. There are World War II episodes and Westerns. Aliens are everywhere and even children are monsters.

Everyone has their favorite episode. Classics such as "To Serve Man" and "Time Enough At Last" are part of American culture right up to this day.

Warning Signs wants to know what you think. What is your favorite episode of "The Twilight Zone"?

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